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PSE first and fourth-graders pair up for projects

Published on Monday, February 10, 2020

Tech buddies at PSE come together to work on Black History Month projects

BCSD photo / Monica Kreber

Sometimes projects take a little bit of teamwork.

Philip Simmons Elementary first-graders recently got an extra hand in working on their Black History Month projects.

Analyn Haynes’s fourth-graders teamed up with Elizabeth Killian’s first-graders to help the younger students conduct research on 10 famous black entertainers. On Feb. 10 the students worked together in the school’s MakerSpace classroom to create cardboard versions of the celebrities they chose. The fourth-graders are also helping the younger students record their research on Makey Makeys using a program called Scratch.

MakerSpace is a classroom that promotes creating; students get to participate in a lot of personalized learning and get involved in more innovative projects. A Makey Makey is like a circuit board that allows students to connect everyday objects to computer programs.

First and fourth-graders are called “tech buddies” at Philip Simmons Elementary; the buddy system is used throughout the school. This is the first year Haynes and Killian’s students have been paired up. The fourth-graders have previously done other activities with the first-graders such as reading together. Killian said her students did a project a few weeks ago where they wrote books about animals and the fourth-graders helped them build the settings of their stories; the students used Makey Makeys to record themselves talking like the animal they selected.

“I think…it makes for great partnership. They look up to each other,” Killian said, adding, “I think it’s nice to have…an upper-child buddy system.”

Their most recent projects will be featured at the school’s Black History Month program on Feb. 28 in the multipurpose room. Each grade level will have different projects representing different historic figures (performers, athletes, etc.) to present as part of the program. The first-graders were charged with picking a performer to research, look up the performer’s history and special facts about him or her, and then create a cardboard look-alike of the performer.

The fourth-graders are also featuring abolitionists for the school’s Black History Month program.

“Since we were tech buddies we decided to do one together,” Haynes said, adding the fourth-graders were able to help do research and organize it for the first-graders.

The first-graders were able to choose which celebrity they wanted to research – Beyoncé, Pharrell, Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Otis Redding, Will Smith and Prince were some of the celebrities students selected to feature. On Feb. 10, students were working hard on their cardboard cutouts, using fabric and yarn to create the clothing and hair of their celebrity.

Students reported a lot of fun facts about the person they researched: "Beyoncé has won 23 awards." "Prince played 27 instruments." "Out of her 12 Grammy Award nominations, Diana Ross scored the award once." "Otis Redding won a lot of awards and trophies."

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Monica Kreber